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The al-Qaida leader killed in a drone strike Monday was linked to at least two terror plots that targeted New York City, security officials tell NBC 4 New York. Jonathan Dienst reports.
The al-Qaida leader killed in a drone strike Monday was linked to at least two terror plots that targeted New York City, security officials tell NBC 4 New York.
Videos made by Abu Yahya al-Libi were used to recruit the terrorists who planned to be suicide bombers on city subways in the 2009 Zazi bomb plot.
Officials also said al-Libi gave orders to terrorist Bryant Neal Vinas, who later scouted the Long Island Rail Road for a possible terror attack.
Al-Libi moved up to the No. 2 position in al-Qaida after the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden last May.
“He served as al-Qaida’s general manager responsible for overseeing the group's day-to-day operations,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Al-Libi was killed in a drone strike that is believed to have killed a total of 15 terror operatives.
During this year’s subway bomb trial, admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi testified that he and his fellow plotters attended a terror training camp in Pakistan where Al-Libi’s videos were played to inspire them to carry out an attack. And Vinas testified at the same trial that he personally met with al-Libi before returning to the U.S. to scout possible targets.
According to the trial transcript, prosecutors asked Vinas about his travels to Lwara, Pakistan.
"Whose command were you under at that point?” prosecutors asked.
Vinas responded, “Sheikh Abu YaYa al-Libi.”
Al-Libi played a role in making videos calling for attacks on U.S. targets, both overseas and domestic. Intelligence officials said he actively reached out to al-Qaida affiliates across the globe to encourage terror strikes. Inside Pakistan, security officials said he played a direct role in a suicide bombing that targeted the Danish embassy in Islamabad.
Al-Libi had been in U.S. custody in Afghanistan but escaped from a prison at Bagram Air Base in 2005. That escape and his religious background made him popular among al-Qaida members.
After news of his death, Sen. Charles Schumer called on Pakistan to do more to target al-Qaida groups operating along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Schumer added that drone strikes will continue against terror leaders so long as they are operating in the Waziristan region.
“The latest strike shows how good our intelligence is and we can take these people out,” the senate said. "Al-Qaida is a much weaker organization today even than it was the day after bin Laden was killed.”
Ayman al Zawahiri remains al-Qaida's top leader and other terror operatives like Adnan Shukrajuma, also linked to the Zazi subway plot, are believed to be hiding in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
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